Description - These beautiful ornamental gardens were first planted in 1923 by Alfred B. and Louise Maclay after they purchased the property for their winter home. A masterpiece of floral architecture, the gardens feature a picturesque brick walkway, a secret garden azaleas. Lake Hall provides opportunities, a reflection pool, a walled garden, and hundreds of camellias and for swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Only boats without motors or with electric motors are allowed. Pavilions and grills along the lake shore provide the perfect setting for a picnic. For walking enthusiasts, two short nature trails meander through the woods overlooking the lake. Hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians can enjoy five miles of multi-use trails winding through the woods surrounding Lake Overstreet, located on park property adjoining the gardens.
- Self-guided garden tours are aided by a Gardens Walking Tour brochure, available at the Ranger Station. Guided group tours are available upon request, with a three weeks notice to allow for scheduling. During the peak blooming period, guided tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays, depending upon availability of staffing and volunteers. Interpretive exhibits are available.
Recreation - The Lake Overstreet portion of the park offers approximately five miles of multi-use trails that can be used for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. These trails affording views of Lake Overstreet and a ravine system that rivals those of North Georgia. The Big Pine and Boy Scout nature trails meander through the wooded hillsides overlooking Lake Hall. Novice hikers could expect to walk the distance of either trail in less than one hour. In addition, approximately three miles of designated bike trails provide scenic biking on the Overstreet property.
Lake Hall is excellent for canoeing and small sailboats. Only boats without motors or with electric motors are allowed. Visitors are reminded that most of the lake's shoreline is private.
Climate - Florida's weather is dominated by the water that surrounds it. The Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Gulf of Mexico in the west provide a stabilizing force that maintains the mild climate. Northern Florida is considered sub tropical, although it does receive some snow. This area is drier than the rest of the state. Southern areas of the state, definitely the Keys, lie within a tropical climate. Humidity is high, a characteristic of the climate, although the temperatures usually don't extend past 90 degrees F.
On the average the state receives 50 to 65 inches of rain. Summer is the rainy season, which extends into October in the south. Hurricane season begins in late August. Some hurricanes can bring up to 25 inches of rain. An average of two hurricanes per season reach the Florida peninsula. Most often these storms reach the Atlantic Coast rather than the Gulf Coast.
Maclay State Gardens is located one half mile north of I–10 on U.S. 319.